JOHOR BARU, Aug 30 — The 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) should be retained as it has proven effective in boosting the purchasing power of the bottom 40 per cent (B40), said Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin.
Reacting to the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s proposal to abolish the aid, he said BR1M ought to be reviewed and strengthened as its success has been proven through reports from both within and outside the country.
Khaled said BR1M, which has been renamed Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) by the PH government, was implemented in 2012 and aimed to assist citizens with a low income.
“In the Malaysian Economic Monitor 2014, a report published by the World Bank, it was also stated that BR1M had reached 90 per cent of the target group and succeeded in reducing poverty,” he said in a statement today.
Khaled said the Economic Report 2016/2017, published by the Finance Ministry, also found that households with incomes under RM3,000 had fallen from 52.7 per cent to 24.3 per cent in 2009.
He said BR1M had also reduced income inequality with the Gini coefficient — a measure of statistical dispersion to represent wealth distribution in a country — declining from 0.441 in 2009 to 0.399 in 2016.
“The success and benefits of BR1M’s initiative have been clearly proven and even in the PH manifesto, they promised to continue with it,” said the 59-year-old former Johor mentri besar.
Khaled also listed three reasons to maintain BR1M instead of abolishing it.
“First, the new government needs to make sure the list of eligible recipients is reviewed periodically.
“BR1M can also be matched with any other intervention programmes or initiatives to assist the recipient effectively.
“Finally, the government can reassess the amount allocated and match it not only by income, but also the locality and total household income,” he said.
Khaled also questioned Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s recent statement that the government planned to eventually phase out the BR1M cash handout.
“How will the PH government help the B40 group cope with the cost of living if it abolishes the BR1M cash handout?” he asked, adding that the PH government needs to ensure that the B40 group will not be impacted by its abolishment.
A news portal recently quoted Dr Mahathir as saying that 7.2 million BR1M recipients were in for a shock as the federal government will slowly reduce the payouts to wean them off it altogether.
The prime minister was quoted as blaming the previous Najib administration for “spoiling” the people.
Dr Mahathir was also reported as saying that the people should stop depending on the government and believing that they are entitled to money without doing any work.